Before we set out on ¨the big trip¨, I purchased every textbook imaginable. Each was designed to help me home school the kids on subjects they would miss while on the road for a year, spelling, math, science. I packed enough arts and crafts to supply a small village. I was committed to home schooling; I didn't want the kids to miss out on learning. What I didn't realize then was that the best tools would be all around me.
By the end of our first month, it was time to open the books. Until then it had been all fun and little if no work. Lesson number one. A teaching manual suggested that I hide somewhere in the house and let Max, my 7 year old son, use whatever skills he required - listening for movement, calling out - to find me. That afternoon while touring Capuchinas, a 17th century ruin in Antigua, Guatemala, I realized that I had it all wrong. Why hide in the house when I could hide among ancient ruins! It made the exercise so much fun. For both of us.
We had a unique opportunity on our visit to Monterrico, a black sand beach located on Guatemala's Pacific coast. The kids helped release newly hatched sea turtles into the ocean. A discussion on extinction and endangered species naturally ensued. The experience drove home the meaning more than any textbook ever could.
A stroll along the beach turned into an hour-long discussion on sea creatures, in particular crustaceans and mollusks. My son couldn't believe that clams were actually alive. On Max's insistence, we collected clams and made a home for them in a bottle filled with sand, grass, a snail and shells. Although our new pets died the next day, it was a good opportunity to discuss the importance of respecting animals and keeping them in their natural habitat.
An afternoon walk along Antigua's cobblestone streets turned into a lesson in geometry. A game of I spy led my kids to discover the 3-D shapes that surround us. They discovered that pillars of ancient ruins are cylindrical and lights on the lampposts are spheres. The best part, ordering ice cream and making sure it was put on a cone!
The world is my textbook and I can't wait to see what the rest of the pages will teach us!
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